Updated to include comments from Stephen Curry.
Under Armour recently announced the release of the "Chef Curry" version of the Curry 2 Low shoes, which quickly set the Internet ablaze for their lack of, well, cool factor. Mostly white with grey Under Armour branding, the sneakers look great for a nurse that has some form of style or a dad who doesn't want to appear totally dorky at parent/teacher night. The fact the sneakers have become an Internet sensation will make either party -- dad or nurse -- seem cool should they plunk down the $120 to buy the sneakers at the store. Think about the Instagram cred just waiting in the wings for a tech savvy, 40-year-old father of two.
Nevertheless, the Chef Curry shoes are far removed from the brightly colored high-top Curry sneakers Under Armour has been dropping since they signed the NBA champ in 2013. And that was something social media instantly recognized.
Social media trolls may be skeptical on Curry's new sneaks, but the man who they are named after seems to dig them. "If I had them in the road bag I would have definitely worn them and shown them how fiery they are," said Curry after the Golden State Warriors' win Friday over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA playoffs. Curry added, "I love the nicknames they [people] came up with -- but I like them [the shoes]."
While there may be many stylish dads and nurses walking around town soon, the fact the sneakers have gone viral should help Under Armour in two departments. First, the actual sneaker could sell out given all of the hoopla. "Anything new and [already] selling well helps," pointed out veteran footwear industry analyst Sam Poser of Sterne Agee. The Chef Curry will likely do its small part to keep Under Armour's already hot footwear business strong.
In large part thanks to demand for Curry's basketball sneakers, Under Armour's footwear sales in the first quarter skyrocketed 64% year over year to $264 million. For 2015, footwear sales increased 57% to $678 million. Footwear now makes up about 17% of Under Armour's business.
Second, the eyeballs on this one particular sneaker arrive before a product expansion under the Curry brand this fall by Under Armour, therefore, the attention certainly couldn't hurt.
Up until now, Under Armour has mostly sold basketball sneakers, T-shirts, shorts and accessories in concert with Stephen Curry. But the company will soon release several styles of lightweight Curry-branded hoodies. The Under Armour logo will be less prominent on Curry's clothes in the future, similar to what Nike (NKE) - Get Report has done with the Jordan brand.
In the end, who can argue with anything Under Armour has done with Curry? Sales of his basketball sneakers have been top-sellers. And since Under Armour officially signed Curry on Oct. 1, 2013, shares have skyrocketed about 87%, compared to a 25% gain for the S&P 500.